Silence of the CFIA Lambs….

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passport medsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

July 31st, the supposed EU deadline for implementing a traceability system for horses in Canada, is a date that has come and gone.  Although many pro-slaughter advocates maintained that we all made up that date, it clearly originated from the GAO report on horse slaughter – Horse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.

“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”

cash paid for unwanted horsesEarlier in July I wrote to the CFIA to find out what was going down on July 31st.  While Dr. Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for the CFIA’s response did address some of the questions I posed in a letter, it also leaves some other questions completely unanswered or open to interpretation.  The most obvious acknowledgement by the CFIA is that the EU has apparently extended the date two or three years into the future, not that we will be ready by 2015 or 2016 either.  They’re really hedging their bets by including two possible implementation dates too!  Just in case they can’t get it together by 2015, well, there’s always next year!  Lather, rinse and repeat……..

Of course,  restrictions and deadlines hardly bothered the CFIA in the past,  but now they have this passport system with which to contend – a detailed electronic log of a horse’s lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given— including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, which is banned entirely, must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they can not be imported into EU nations.  Canada tried to implement traceability for horses before,  and seemed to give up after spending almost $500,000 to find out that it was unworkable,  no doubt due in part to the fact that many Canadian horse owners just don’t seem to be interested in paying for microchips and barn calls to satisfy third party concerns about the eligibility of our horses for meat.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Also of interest is the fact that Dr. Alexander tells us that the horsemeat market in Canada is worth $36 million, while we’ve always known it to generate around $70 million in the recent past.  Exactly what happened to halve the revenue of this industry in 2012?

Put down any beverages you are currently drinking, because you’ll probably  choke when you read that Dr. Alexander believes that the EID system is just as effective as the passporting system!  Well, perhaps he’s not really wrong, since they are both completely falsifiable and corruptable.  We saw this during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal early this year, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque,  and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability as does buying meat off the street from a stranger.

missingNotice also that “technical support” is being offered to both Equine Canada and Canada’s #1 slaugherphile Bill DesBarres of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  Is that CFIA-speak for throwing money at both groups?  Apparently, Canada can’t learn from the EU’s mistakes – we’re going to have two separate and distinct databases?  The same problems in the EU system – lack of control over the inputs into the database and duplicated records would happen here, and it would be even worse with two systems.  The EU has since realized that there were too many opportunities for unscrupulous people to make changes to the database, and are tightening up controls in that respect.  What gives veterinarians the idea that they should have any business involving themselves in the architecture and implementation of databases anyway?

I love the closing paragraph on Alexander’s correspondence, – they’ve got an “action plan to not stop exporting equine meat products to the EU Market.”  That’s right,  no matter what,  they’ll jury-rig the system and bamboozle the EU in order to maintain the status quo.  Of course they don’t allude to what their plans entail.  Whatever could the CFIA have told the EU to make them think we have a system with any credibility whatsoever?

The CFIA was given the dual and conflicting mandate to promote agri-food trade and sales,  as well as ensure food safety. That agency has a role to play in preventing the crime of allowing adulterated

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz.  Live export, horse slaughter, exploding sausages, lavish expenditures, and the downloading of responsibility for our food inspection to the un-elected private sector. Somebody stick a fork in Gerry Ritz. I think he’s done.

horsemeat into the market, but it’s clear that they should not be in charge of food protection whilst simultaneously sending the inexplicably still-employed Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz and others on missions around the world promoting trade.

Food safety in Canada has jumped the shark.  There’s just too much allegiance to old, outdated systems operating purely on faith.  Horses are not living beings exploited by this industry and its participants, but “products” to be exported like lumber.  Oh Canada, what have we got to be proud about when it comes to our treatment of horses?

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

11 responses »

  1. Pingback: Silence of the CFIA Lambs | Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog

  2. I’m in the US and I was hoping that Canada would stop allowing the importation US horses but I guess I was wrong. Its going to be up to the anti-slaughter organizations in the US to try to get this stopped. Its all about the money and nothing else. Neither country cares what happens to the consumers that eat this contaminated meat. This sounds a lot like the politicians in the US with their under the table payoffs. What a mess.

    • You are right Barbara – that was one of the points of my post. It’s clear that regulations were meant to be broken, and the Canadian government intends to continue this industry no matter what. And the EU appears to be totally bamboozled despite their many audits and findings of health concerns.

    • Gotta agree. The consumers in the EU are clammoring for them to DO SOMETHING about the horse meat scandal AND to stop importing horse meat from 3rd countries, especially North America. Maybe they will force the EU to do something about both.

      The usage of horse meat in the EU is going DOWN. Let’s hope that trend continues.

  3. The Europeans have their own checkpoints in place for imported meat – why should we spend the millions of dollars to in essence duplicate their efforts in this country? We have been warning the EU and Europeans about the dangers of eating the horsemeat that Canada exports. The EU surely does not think that thousands of horse people in this country are going to monitor their horses medications for the horse slaughter industry? Canadians have enough on their hands trying to keep their own health system intact and their cherished old age pensions.

    • That was the whole idea. Americans won’t do it and the USDA hasn’t got the funds to implement such a system, so there is NO chance of it happening in the US. Thus, hopefully, Canada and Mexico would stop accepting our horses for slaughter.

      If the EU doesn’t get things in hand soon and enforce their new regulations, shipping horses to Mexico and Canada will continue since there is very little chance of the SAFE Act ever becoming law.

      We wanted the EU to STOP accepting our horses!

  4. This is with out a doubt enough to take the wind out of any one sails who is working and or supporting the ban on this industry. I am beginning to believe our efforts in Canada and perhaps the U.S stand little chance of success when we know for a fact that the industry in Canada is corrupt, and worse is supported by an unethical scandal ridden corrupt Govt. who has two more years in office.
    Hopefully there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the US PUBLIC to be successful in making the Safe Act Law.
    Truly Disappointing

    • Dennis, There’s a lot in here to indicate things are changing, although at a glacial pace. There is no way the CFIA can ignore the drug issues forever, especially after lasagna-gate. This is the most honest piece of writing I’ve ever received from the CFIA, and that’s saying a lot. Here they are actually acknowledging that there is a conversation underway. At the same time I was disappointed in much of it too though. Hopefully the US can get it shut down or at least severely curtailed because they don’t have an approved traceability program.

  5. We are trying as hard as we can to get Federal legislation passed while fighting it out in individual states. Our Congress is SO dysfunctional I don’t know whether ANYTHING will get passed, but we will never give up. Promise.

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